Kid Gloves On For IE8

Here is an example of Kid Glove treatment. Here it is IE, the worst browser by far, continuing to get kid-glove treatment from the IT trade press. The writer is JR Raphael at PC World in a story featured on Infoworld – Browser battle: Firefox 3.1 vs. Chrome vs. IE 8. In contrast, look at this appraisal of browsers from Jim Rapoza at eWeek, it sets the record straight on browser innovation. Since the comes from PC World, you would think you are getting at least a fair and informed appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the browsers. But as the screenshot below shows there are major problems:
First, on the plus side there are two honest points: 1)the IE8s address bar does approximate Chromes search and/or web address short cut capabilities but not with the same speed and range of choices; and 2)IE8s privacy no-record option was first but also has been duplicated by Chrome, Firefox and all the other browsers. However, the point about IE8 owning 75% of the market (and declining) smacks of “hold your nose and live with it”.

But the real problem is the comments on security, add-ons and a blindside on negatives. Mr. Raphael repeats the skewed security numbers used against cross platform browsers by Microsoft. For every security bug on each platform there is an error report generated by some security tabulators. So browsers like Firefox, Opera, and Safari often get hit by multiple counts when one coding bug shows up on multiple platforms. Hence Opera appears to be so vulnerable because it is available on so many devices and platforms. In contrast IE8, which only has the Windows platform errors to reconcile, looks good. This erroneous comparison has been cited and clarified before – but Mr. Raphael appears to cater to the Microsoft viewpoint.

Second, Mr. Raphael says the “IE8 browser catches up to Firefox with a new Gallery of add-ons.” Another example of Palinesque straight-forward lying -“we are against earmarks and I told Congress no thank you on the bridge to nowwhere” but I kept the money and lobbied bigtime as mayor and governor for these very same dastard earmarks. Mr. Raphaels big lie is that IE8 catches up with Firefox add-ons. A simple look at the two sites add-on pages shows Firefox to have many more tahn IE,. Firefox offers not onlya richer set but not nearly so many repetitions of the same search engines as on the IE gallery. In short, IE8 is very far from “catching up with Firefox in the range, quality and number of add-ons. But Mr. Raphael protects himself down in the Bad points citing the fact IEs add-ons dont appear to work as well as the Firefox add-ons.

But the real deficit in the comparison is that Raphael is mum about IE continuing to fall way behind all browsers in implementing CSS, DOM, and JavaScript standards – many of the IE missing in action from 6-8 years ago. Yes, Mr. Raphael is upfront about the distinct speed and memory usage disadvantages of IE8; but for some reason he neglects to mentions all the extra work that developers have to go through to make IE work properly on Web pages because IE is still woefully behind on standards implementations. In addition Microsoft has been woefully slow to deprecate and replace its proprietary extensions in HTML, DOM, CSS, and JavaSCript. Currently Redmond argues what it has been arguing for the past 8-10 years – they dont want to put a burden on their users and Web developers by making these changes. But Redmond was only to happy to stiff new buyers of PCs with Vista only purchases (oh you can downgrade to Windows XP which is 40% faster than Vista; but your on your own for the install and support).

In sum, yet again, this is another example of how the IT Trade Press bends over backward in assessing Microsofts software. If Microsoft were reviewing IE8 as a piece of competitors software they would absolutely trash it. Now Mr Raphael does not need to do such a Redmond-like slashing, but he really should frank and forthcoming and place IE8 where it currently stands – well at the bottom of the heap and not only for the reasons he has cited but for the ones he omitted.